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What is Resilience?

Resilience is often defined in lay terms as the ability to 'bounce back'. The word was originally used to describe a material that is elastic and thus capable of returning to its former shape after being stretched. Resilience has now become an established and invaluable concept in psychological, therapeutic and medical settings and refers to an individual's ability to deal with adversity and maintain a normal development in spite of setbacks or risks.

Many people equate resilience with 'inner strength' or 'hardiness' and describe it in terms of personality. While there are some individual traits that may affect our resilience, current research clearly states that resilience is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. The need for a broad definition of resilience is emphasized by Dr M. Ungar of the International Resilience Project, who describes resilience as follows: 'both the individual's capacity to navigate towards health resources and the ability of the family, community, culture to provide those resources in culturally meaningful ways'. *